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Thicken solid surface tool


Chris Brough

Question

I WISH there was a one click way to add thickness to a surface.

Currently the quickest way i've found is to duplicate object > shell (outside) leaving only the surface you want to thicken > then add solids back together.

(this should also incorporate the opposite > subtracting thickness from a surface)

Seems this should be SIMPLE ;) for the devs to automate into one tool, and would be SUPER useful.

Anyone else have a better solution or in need of this tool?

GET OUT THE VOTE!

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17 answers to this question

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hello all, thank you for the replies!

Jim: the surface of any solid object. Extrusion, subtraction, csg solid, addition, section,

Kevin: I'd like the current solid object to remain with one surface offset/concentric/parallel to the original surface i select with by specific positive or negative dimension.

Tim:

1: I believe the shell solid will only leave a "shell" in the thickness specified, giving you a hollowed out solid. Either on the inside vs outside. I utilize the shell solid to get the desired result, however it takes much longer than the tool i'm asking for.

2: good point... replace thickness with elevation. so i would like to add or subtract from the elevation of a surface. Although, elevation only implies change in one axis. The "thicken/offset/elevation whatever you may call it" command would offset the surface concentric/parallel to the original.

BCD: thx for the tip!

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If you just want to thicken the curvy Surface at front I would

do it with the 2D curve and the normal Offset Tool, Mode close curve.

(Or draw side ends by lines and connect/combine manually if curve ends

don't end perpendicular)

And finally extrude that shape.

Edited by zoomer
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I am not sure that all users realize how much can actually be done with the Shell Solid tool. But there is room for improvement:

1. To supplement the inside/outside setting, it would be nice with a 'center' setting.

2. A tickbox next to the inside settings saying: 'Subtract from solid' and another one next to the outside setting saying: 'Add to solid'. Theese two tickboxes would allow a one step thickening or thinnening (if such words exist) of the base solid worked on.

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The video below shows my workflow. hopefully this will better explain the tool :)

BTW: i miss this tool from my autodesk inventor days: inventor thicken/offset tool

watch this video: screen capture

+1

I agree a thicken tool would be useful, especially for shapes like in the Inventor help file/manual.

Some shapes will not generate a solid when extruded, swept etc. and if you need a proper solid object the shell solid does not seem to be the solution either, though I have not used that tool a lot.

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I am not sure that all users realize how much can actually be done with the Shell Solid tool.

Based on what I have read in the help, the Shell Solid tool does not generate a solid at all.

Is there a way to have the generated shell to be turned into a solid instead of just a shape with an outside and inside surface with an empty space between them so that the end result is a solid in between the two surfaces?

Currently the only option I am aware of to create such a solid object is to subtract an inner solid from an outer solid.

A thicken tool would be a one step solution in this case.

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I am not sure that all users realize how much can actually be done with the Shell Solid tool. But there is room for improvement:

1. To supplement the inside/outside setting, it would be nice with a 'center' setting.

2. A tickbox next to the inside settings saying: 'Subtract from solid' and another one next to the outside setting saying: 'Add to solid'. Theese two tickboxes would allow a one step thickening or thinnening (if such words exist) of the base solid worked on.

^^This would be a simple way to implement this. Another would be to improve the Offset tool, since this is what it should be able to do on a solid. Its also a bit hit and miss with surfaces. It should easily offset both 2D and 3D shapes.

I think there should also be a way to create a hollow solid that has an outside wall thickness too (i.e.. shelling as per normal without an open side). This is often necessary for 3d printing and other things. (I think this is what ArtV is asking for)

A "create duplicate" option in the mode bar for the Shell Solid tool would also be an asset given that it doesn't have a history (why it doesn't I'm not sure). Or even better, a simple keyboard modifier (ie. hold down option while clicking an object to shell creates a duplicate).

We don't really need another tool.

Kevin

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I think there should also be a way to create a hollow solid that has an outside wall thickness too (i.e.. shelling as per normal without an open side). This is often necessary for 3d printing and other things. (I think this is what ArtV is asking for)

Yes and no. What you are talking about would still generate a hollow solid, which I sometimes need.

What the thicken tool does is to create a full solid based on a surface as it generates an equal distance extrusion perpendicular to all planes. Some surfaces cannot be extruded properly on some surfaces because one or more of the surface sides is/are in the plane of the extrusion. A sweep generates a hollow object, so that does not work either, which means a thicken (or offset that generates a full solid object) would probably be the best way to solve this.

If there is another way to easily generate such a solid I'd be glad to hear from the more experienced 3D users.

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"Based on what I have read in the help, the Shell Solid tool does not generate a solid at all."

But it does. It sure does. In fact the Shell Solid tool will do everything that you request in this thread – although it may take a few steps to get there.

Also it does not require a proper solid as base object, nurbs surfaces will do just fine.

Edited by Kaare Baekgaard
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"Based on what I have read in the help, the Shell Solid tool does not generate a solid at all."

But it does. It sure does. In fact the Shell Solid tool will do everything that you request in this thread – although it may take a few steps to get there.

Also it does not require a proper solid as base object, nurbs surfaces will do just fine.

When I tried this before on a surface the results looked like a hollow solid to me.

After reading your reply I retried doing one shell solid action per surface and found out you are correct, I needed to do several steps for each surface in the original test item.

The problem that I got in this case was that only a few resulting solids could be merged and I would have to manually repair the remaining solids to be able to merge them so that I would end up with a single solid. But that is something I can work on later.

There was one surface where it wouldn't work. Removing that surface and making sure the result was a nurbs surface allowed the shell solid to work on the "leftover" item in one step, which gave the desired result (minus the removed part), i.e. a single solid.

So it would depend on the geometry whether the shell solid works in one step or not.

This is one of those things where the manual/help could be a bit more extensive/clear for those who don't use this tool often. Hopefully the 2016 help will be better than the 2015 help.

That being said, it would be nice if the shell solid tool would be smart enough to proceed anyway and figure out how to deal with that one part where it failed in my test object, as in my opinion it could have generated a solid though with some adjusting of the resulting inside geometry (i.e. flatten it).

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Art V: "The problem that I got in this case was that only a few resulting solids could be merged and I would have to manually repair the remaining solids to be able to merge them so that I would end up with a single solid. But that is something I can work on later."

Your method is not optimal. The first step is to use 'Add Solid' on your surfaces. Sometimes, you cannot add them all in one go for some reason, but all surfaces need to be inside a single solid, which would be open in your case. Then you use the shell tool on the lot by shift-clicking each surface (option-shift-click for back faces).

The point being, that adjoining surfaces and rounded edges will automatically be tapered corectly – and that the inside/outside of the surfaces are all oriented the same way.

There are a number things, that can go wrong here. If the edges of two surfaces do not meet corectly, the tool will fail. If the surfaces are 'sloppy' with excess vertices on top of each other, you may need to clean them up before you try. If the weather is slightly damp, it might fail as well.

In other words, it is not the most forgiving tool of the lot, but if you get it right, it can do surprising things.

Edited by Kaare Baekgaard
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Your method is not optimal. The first step is to use 'Add Solid' on your surfaces. Sometimes, you cannot add them all in one go for some reason, but all surfaces need to be inside a single solid, which would be open in your case. Then you use the shell tool on the lot by shift-clicking each surface (option-shift-click for back faces).

[...}

In other words, it is not the most forgiving tool of the lot, but if you get it right, it can do surprising things.

Thanks for the info, I'll try a few more shapes with the shell solid tool to get a better idea of its capabilities, keeping in mind the things you mentioned.

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